Sessions situation stirs ire among Shore Congressmen
****Shortly after the completion of this article, Attorney General Sessions recused himself from the federal investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 race for the White House***
Responding to allegations that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions communicated with Russian officials during Donald Trump's Presidential campaign, Jersey Shore Republicans in Congress urge an influence-free investigation, while Monmouth's Democrat calls for his resignation.
With a prominent role in the probe of alleged Russian meddling in the November Presidential election, Sessions is fending off accusations of discussions with Russian U.S. Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, that, if true, would contradict his testimony during his confirmation hearings.
Some leading Republicans suggest that Sessions recuse himself from the investigation, Sessions told MSNBC that he would recuse himself if it's appropriate. According to the Associated Press, House Speaker Paul Ryan said that Sessions should recuse himself only if he is the target of an investigation.
The Trump Administration countered the allegations by supporting Sessions, and accusing Congressional critics of playing politics.
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence seeks to establish several key points:
- What Russian cyber activity and other active measures were directed against the United States and its allies?
- Did the Russian active measures include links between Russia and individuals associated with the political campaigns of any other U.S. persons?
- What was the U.S. Government's response to these Russian active measures and we do we need to do to protect ourselves and our allies in the future?
- What possible leaks of classified information took place related to the Intelligence Community Assessment of these matters?
Monmouth-based Representative Frank Pallone (D-6) joined leading Democrats in calling for his resignation. He released a scathing statement:
“It is clear that Attorney General Sessions lied before the Senate Judiciary Committee when asked if he had communications with Russia during the 2016 campaign. Any charge of perjury before Congress must be address with the utmost seriousness, but it is completely unacceptable for the nation’s top law enforcement official. There is no way for Attorney General Sessions to continue in his position with the confidence of Congress and the American people He should immediately resign.
“Sessions’ actions are yet another revelation in a long line of deception from the Trump administration about its interactions with Russia. President Trump waited weeks to force Michael Flynn out of his position after learning he lied about contact with Russia and only did so after numerous media reports. The continuous lies from the Trump the administration, presents the strong possibility that it is misleading the American people because the truth is worse.
President Trump is unwilling and incapable of holding an independent investigation to reveal the truth about his interactions with Russia and the American people deserve an independent investigation.”
South Jersey Representative Frank LoBiondo (R-02) took a more measured, yet stern, tone:
“Attorney General Sessions must recuse himself from any investigation into Russian activities and clarify his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, for which I am a member, is conducting a bip artisan investigation of its own that I fully support. The parameters of our investigation were agreed to by Republicans and Democrats on HPSCI and released to the news media this week. The investigation should go wherever it leads and I will strongly push for a declassified report to be released publicly at its conclusion.”
Ocean- and Burlington County-based Representative Tom MacArthur issued a terse response:
"Attorney General Jeff Sessions already stated this morning that he would recuse himself if it’s appropriate. I have nothing further to add to this."